You step off a train at Oslo Central Station and are met with a towering billboard. The ad showcases Norway’s beautiful nature, but features the following text: Welcome to Norway! The Land of Chlamydia.
That’s not a typo or a Norwegian word for beauty. Nope, chlamydia is indeed a pernicious sexually transmitted disease. And it also apparently quite a problem in Norway, where the chlamydia rate is among the highest in Europe.
Are these posters a clever initiative by the health ministry to reduce STDs? Not quite. Instead, these are 7-11 billboards aimed at selling condoms…
The TV commercial is even worse:
The company’s Facebook page features the video with the caption, “Visting Norway? Here’s a souvenir you don’t want to bring home!”
Unsurprisingly, not everyone is not happy about the “clever” ad campaign. Stein Ove Rolland, a marketing director at Visit Norway told Dagbladet:
This makes Norwegians seem like uncouth, lewd, sex-mad people!
This is not a good advert for Norway, and as a depiction of Norway and Norwegians it is a disaster.
7-11 defends its ad campaign. Spokeswoman Thea Kjendlie argued the ads are not a slight against Norweigans, but merely a conversation starter:
As with all slightly controversial campaigns, there have been both positive and negative reactions. So far, we have seen both types, which is expected when the aim is to get our young target audience to talk about the topic. It was not our intention to offend anyone with this campaign but we do want to create engagement and awareness around this topic.
…and also drive sales, I’m assuming.
John Oliver saw fit to cover this new ad campaign. I won’t call it NSFW, but it’s on the risqué side…
You’ve been warned.
Sounds like 7-11 is taking a page from Spirit’s “Return of the MILF” sale.
I think it is probably a bit more appropriate to call it a ‘sexually transmitted infection” because in many cases you don’t actually have a disease. I say that as a Chlamydia “survivor,” though unfortunately I wasn’t infected in Norway 😉